Abortion and Minnesota: What the Law Says
After getting a positive pregnancy test, your mind may be racing with a variety of emotions like fear, anger, or excitement. Some women may determine their plan for the pregnancy right away, while others may need more time. Regardless, it’s important to be educated on all pregnancy options (abortion, adoption, parenting) when facing an unexpected pregnancy to make an informed decision. This post will examine a woman’s legal rights surrounding abortion, what abortion methods are legal in Minnesota, and what steps can be taken if facing such a heavy decision.
Your Legal Rights
At least 24 hours before you have an abortion, you are required to give voluntary and informed consent that includes the medical risks of an abortion, the gestational age of the baby at the time of the abortion, and the medical risks of carrying the baby to term. You also have the right to be made aware of social aspects surrounding a pregnancy decision. These aspects include medical benefits available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care, the father’s liability in supporting the child, a list of agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and information on fetal pain.
Not only should you be informed of your options and risks, you should also be allowed to ask questions. This 24-hour waiting period is in place so that women have the right to think through their decision with the facts presented to them.
What Methods of Abortion Are Legal
Generally, abortions can be divided into two categories: before 14 weeks gestation and after 14 weeks gestation. While the medical aspects of these individual methods will be briefly outlined below, each method can be discussed further by calling one of our offices and/or scheduling an appointment with one of our staff.
Before 14 Weeks:
The most common method of abortion is a non-surgical abortion. This may also be referred to as a medical abortion, chemical abortion, RU-486, or “the abortion pill.” This type of abortion is legal up to 70 days after the first day a woman’s last menstrual period. This method uses a two-step process to end a pregnancy. The first step is taking a drug that blocks progesterone, which is a hormone needed to sustain a pregnancy. The second step is taking another medication that causes uterine contractions to expel all uterine contents including the baby and placenta.
The other method used prior to 14 weeks is called a vacuum aspiration abortion. This method opens the cervix and uses suction to remove the baby and placenta from the woman’s uterus.
After 14 Weeks:
After 14 weeks, there are two methods used. One of these methods is termed dilation and evacuation (D&E). This method is similar to a vacuum aspiration abortion in that the cervix needs to be dilated. This can be done with sponges or rods. After the cervix is opened, medical instruments such as forceps and suction are used to remove the baby and placenta.
The other method of abortion used after 14 weeks is labor induction. This form of abortion uses medication to initiate early labor. This may include receiving a drug intravenously (in your blood stream), intravaginally, or directly into the amniotic sac. Both intravenous and intravaginal medications start uterine contractions which induce labor and eventually lead to the delivery of the baby. In a small percentage of these deliveries, the baby is born alive. If the medication that is injected directly into the amniotic sac is used, this medication stops baby’s heartbeat and then stimulates uterine contractions.
When Does Abortion Become Illegal
In Minnesota, abortions are legal until what’s known as the “age of viability” which is the point in development when a baby can survive outside the womb. Currently, viability is determined to be 23 weeks gestation. Abortions may still be permitted after the age of viability if it’s determined the mother’s physical health is at a significant risk.
No matter what options are being considered, each choice can have a lasting impact. If you are in the decision-making process and feel overwhelmed or lost, we want you to know you are not alone. Call or text any of our offices to talk through your options or schedule an appointment for a pregnancy test, ultrasound, or decision-making appointment.